Recently I dated a man who said something that I haven’t been able to forget. In telling me about his experience in dating a woman whose husband had passed, he angrily stated, “I think she was just experimenting on me.” Up into my overactive brain, mice, rats, Skinner boxes and mad scientist faces rose to match his tone. But, I knew what he meant.
Unfortunately, the only way to find someone to love and who loves you is to meet and date them. If there were a shortcut, believe me, I would have found it. As I’ve said before, dating can be a bit like slogging through a pig pen after a week of rain. But implicit to dating is repeated episodes of “Sorry, but I’m just not attracted to you.” or some version of that death knell statement. But are we using someone, exploiting one another on our way to finding a match?
There are both men and women who are capable of using and exploiting and perhaps you have met one or two. I hope not. Men have stories of women who “just use dating to be taken out to dinner” and women who believe “he just wanted to have sex and when I said ‘no’, he practically pushed me out of the car.” But, for most of us, the reality is different. We just want to stay long enough to see if what we see is what we get or feel or want. Is the chemistry there? Is there more to it (him/her) than sexual attraction? As time passes, then and only then can we answer the questions that are crucial if we are to find a partner who is a compatible, healthy match.
How long does it take to “know” whether or not someone is right for you? It is different for everyone, but here is my rule of thumb: If on your first date you feel drawn to want to know more about him or her and it is mutual, go out again and do something different. If you still feel something, unsure what it is, go out again. By the third date most of us know whether what we feel and see and experience is what makes us feel safe, happy and ready to move forward. But sometimes when we are working on changing some patterns or habits or history, it might take longer to interpret our feelings and experience with someone.
Dating is one big experiment. It’s like being ordered at a Deli, sniffed like a dog, sized up like a candidate for a job. It’s all about knowing your intention that will determine if you are experimenting or using someone. If you are seeking dinner, someone with whom to survive the holidays or kiss on New Year’s Eve, a date for a party because you hate going alone, or even a good lay, just be sure the person you are dating has a matching intention! If not, write 100 times The Golden Rule before you go back online.